Be it an off-roading beast or a standout daily driver, turning a Jeep Wrangler into one’s dream vehicle is a process many find invigorating (if not extremely addictive). However, the sheer volume of aftermarket options can overwhelm even the most seasoned Jeepsters.
In this article, let’s trim the riding community’s collective wish list down to the most essential Jeep Wrangler mods and upgrades.
Out of all the attachments and accessories available, here are the best Jeep Wrangler mods and upgrades to have for your 4×4 (whether you are a neophyte or veteran Jeep owner):
- Lift Kits
- Wheels & Tires
- Winch/Recovery Gear
- Roof Racks
- Hard/Soft Tops
- High-End Audio System
One great aspect of owning a Jeep is the ability to personalize the 4×4 to your liking. And contrary to popular belief, you need not necessarily possess advanced technical skills or spend time and money exorbitantly to do this.
Not quite convinced? Read on and learn more about Jeep Wrangler mods that can enhance the functionality and character of your favorite four-wheeler.
Must-Have Jeep Wrangler Mods
1. Lift Kits
A lift kit installation is one of the most popular (and among the most expensive) Jeep Wrangler mods.
On the outside, they give your four-wheeler a more aggressive stance and look while increasing its ground clearance by a notable margin. However, there is more to lift kits (view on Amazon) than these benefits — the details of which I have discussed extensively in a previous article.
Holistically, lift kits are like a double-edged sword. While they can enhance your Wrangler’s off-roading capabilities, they can also adversely impact your rig’s handling, stability, and fuel economy.
Nonetheless, many enthusiasts opt for this modification as its many advantages — improved approach/break-over angles and overall articulation (to name a few) — more than outweigh its potential drawbacks.
2. Wheels & Tires
New wheels and tires are among the most sensible Jeep Wrangler upgrades one can have.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, a good set of aftermarket knobbies like BF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3 All-Season Radials (view on Amazon) can significantly impact the ride quality, handling, and overall driving experience of your Jeep.
For folks who use their Jeep Wrangler as a daily driver and adventure buddy, off-roading tires, with improved traction and aggressive tread patterns, are ideal.
On the other hand, all-terrain tires are up to the task if you are looking for a good balance between off-roading capability, aptness for urban driving, and rider comfort.
But don’t get me wrong — upgrading tires is not limited to off-roading enthusiasts. Anyone who makes suspension adjustments to their rig is bound to get matching tires, rims, wheel spacers, and even fender flares (if the new tires are considerably bigger than stock).
Going for a ‘full battle gear’ theme on your Jeep Wrangler requires changing stock bumpers to aftermarket ones. The latter usually has a more robust construction, provisions for off-road lights, recovery points for D-ring shackles and tow hooks, and a tab for an aftermarket winch.
This isn’t to say that factory bumpers do not have these features. However, the width of aftermarket options is usually fuller than stock — meaning more room for recesses and mounting points.
At least six kinds of bumpers are available in the market, ranging from heavy-duty steel that offers better protection to more flexible modular types where you can add or remove sections as needed.
If you want a sleek design that can accommodate recovery gear, you can never go wrong with a Black Textured EAG Steel Front Bumper with Winch Plate (view on Amazon).
4. Winch/Recovery Gear
Ideally, recovery gear should be the top priority in anyone’s list of Jeep Wrangler upgrades. And it would not matter if it is enlisted first or last in this guide because it is more of a ‘given’ than an optional mod, really.
What makes it one of the best additions to your Jeep is that it can save your or someone else’s life when it matters.
Usually, opting for a winch requires getting item #3 on this list. But this isn’t always the case, as Jeep Wrangler Rubicons have winch-ready bumpers just waiting for a winch to be hooked up.
Outside these models, all other Wrangler generations would warrant a winch and a new bumper.
Apart from an aftermarket winch, below are other recovery items you can equip your Jeep Wrangler:
Winch Line Dampener
This is crucial during winching operations as it helps prevent the winch cable from recoiling if it breaks under tension. It also adds weight to the cable, helping further to reduce the recoil force and absorb energy in the event of a cable failure.
These serve as secure attachment points for recovery straps or winch cables during towing or winching. They also have a high weight rating and are constructed from durable materials to withstand the rigors of off-roading.
Traction boards provide the necessary grip to get unstuck from sand, mud, or snow, allowing riders to continue their adventure without being stranded.
These boards are placed under the tires of a stuck Jeep Wrangler to help it gain traction and get back on solid ground.
High Lift Jack
This jack enables the vehicle to overcome challenging conditions, such as deep mud or rocky terrain, while also allowing for tasks, such as tire changes or undercarriage repairs, to be performed in off-road situations.
Recovery Straps & Rope
These are used alongside a winch to safely pull your Jeep out of sticky situations, ensuring your safety and preventing potential damage to your 4×4.
A snatch block changes the winch cable’s direction and reduces the winch motor’s load. It can double the pulling power of a recovery winch, making it easier to recover your Jeep when stuck.
Tow Straps & Tree Saver Straps
As the name suggests, these straps allow riders to tow or be towed out of a sticky situation (for instance, being stuck in mud, sand, or snow). The tree saver strap works similarly to a tow strap — except that it anchors to a tree or any other stationary object.
Tire Repair Kit
A tire repair kit is a cost-effective solution enabling drivers to fix flat tires while on the trail, avoiding the need for a tow. It typically consists of a tire sealant, a gauge, tire plugs, a reamer, and a plug inserter tool.
Pricier kits have a more extensive set that includes a valve core remover tool, replacement valve cores, and an air compressor or inflator.
Gloves protect your hands from dirt and other potentially harmful substances, as well as cuts, scrapes, and blisters that can occur when working on your Jeep or handling rough or sharp materials.
They also provide a better grip and help prevent slips when handling tools or heavy objects.
This improves the visibility of on-road obstacles and provides additional illumination during nighttime trails, making driving safer. It can also add a personalized, stylish look to your Jeep.
Basic Tool Kit
A tool kit enables anyone to make quick repairs on the go. More importantly, it allows a driver to perform basic repairs and maintenance on their vehicle while on the trail (this is crucial in emergencies and in preventing further damage or breakdowns while off-roading).
Flashlight with Mount
This is useful in low-light conditions and emergencies where secured and easily accessible lighting is necessary.
This shovel is handy for digging out of challenging terrain, creating ramps, or clearing rocks and debris blocking the trail. Additionally, its compact size makes for its portability and easy storage.
A d-handle shovel like Fiskars 397960-1001 Pro Shovel (view on Amazon) is especially useful for camping, off-roading during winter, and other outdoor activities.
A fire extinguisher is an important safety device for effectively extinguishing small fires that may occur during off-roading adventures.
Spare Fuel Container
This enables carrying extra fuel for longer trips or during explorations in remote areas where fuel stations may be scarce or unavailable.
A first-aid kit provides prompt medical assistance to anyone sustaining an injury while on a trip. Having this kit readily available in cases of emergency can help prevent minor injuries from worsening, spelling the difference between life and death.
Enhancing your lighting assembly is crucial for safe night driving and off-roading. Upgrading your headlights, fog lights, and auxiliary lights can improve visibility while adding a unique touch to your Jeep’s appearance.
Switching from stock halogen headlights to LED ones can dramatically enhance brightness, range, and visibility. Additionally, LED lights are more durable, lasting approximately 30 times longer than halogens.
Yellow-tinted lenses are ideal for fog lights, as they reflect the least amount of light while significantly improving visibility in hazy conditions.
Conversely, clear lenses are much better for flood lights’ diffused beams. For all other off-road lights, you can choose from LED light bars, rock lights, spotlights, or cube lights to illuminate the trail around your four-wheeler.
6. Roof Racks
A roof rack is one of those ‘beauty-and-brawn’ attachments you can add to your Wrangler. The EAG 2/4 Door Roof Rack Cargo Basket with Wind Deflector (view on Amazon), for instance, provides a sturdy and durable platform for carrying large or bulky items such as kayaks, bicycles, or camping gear.
It frees up valuable interior space for passengers and provides a more aerodynamic driving experience. Furthermore, the rack adds to the ruggedness and sass of your rig.
And the best part? You can take it down when it’s off-season.
7. Hard/Soft Tops
Upgrading your hard or soft top is necessary for a couple of reasons. One is usual wear and tear, and the other is the benefit it places on the overall comfort and versatility of your Jeep Wrangler.
Generally, factory-assembled soft tops have an average 3— 5 years lifespan. During this period, the soft top stretches out progressively as it approaches its end of life until it develops stitching issues or can no longer fit into the grooves. At the same time, zipper problems can also occur. Either scenario warrants a soft top replacement.
Once upgraded, a new soft top can improve insulation, reduce noise levels, and provide better temperature control inside the cabin. Additionally, brand-new aftermarket soft tops are more durable and offer better protection against potential damage and the elements.
Depending on whether you choose a frameless, modular, Sunrider, flip-top, or bikini type like Bestop-5261035 Header Safari Bikini – ’18-20 Wrangler JL 4-Door, Black Diamond (view on Amazon), your new soft top may be flippable, have removable sections, or offer easier installation.
Unlike soft tops, hard tops are more durable and can last up to a decade. However, usage, maintenance, and environmental conditions can shorten this lifespan. You will need an upgrade once your stock hard top has incurred irreparable damage.
8. High-End Audio System
Many Jeep savants agree that an audio system upgrade is one of the first things you should do after acquiring a Jeep Wrangler. It turns out that the factory-installed audio system sounds like “a bassless AM radio station” when going down the road (not even steep declines!).
This may only be true for high-mileage, secondhand Jeeps. Still, who wouldn’t want to listen to their favorite jam while discovering the wonderful outdoors?
Secondary Jeep Wrangler Upgrades
Grab handles (view on Amazon) are necessary for Wranglers with a significantly higher stance following a lift kit installation.
These add-ons make getting in and out of the cabin easier and serve as a safety handle for passengers unaccustomed to off-roading. They come in various styles and color schemes that can complement your tank’s interior.
Arguably one of the most underrated Jeep Wrangler upgrades, entry guards should be required for off-roading rigs.
They are typically constructed from stainless steel, ABS plastic, diamond plates, or aluminum and are mounted on the lower door sill, protecting the part from everyday wear and tear.
An aftermarket hood latch (or latches) is another add-on you should consider having on your Jeep Wrangler.
Mods like this compensate for the flimsiness of factory hood latches by offering a more durable solution to the infamous ‘hood flutter’ issue experienced in these four-wheelers.
Seat covers not only enhance the appearance of your seats but also add functionality and protection to your vehicle interior.
They weatherproof your seats without sacrificing comfort (a brilliant add-on if you are fond of top-down or al fresco driving).
Floor Mats and Cargo Liners
Lastly, floor mats and cargo liners make a great addition to your Jeep. They are composed of durable material that not only protects and makes your flooring more aesthetically pleasing but also makes cleaning more convenient.
You can choose from carpet, rubber, vinyl, or thermoplastic/TPE mats (view on Amazon) and liners — depending on whether you want resistance to the elements, improved traction, or a more luxurious in-cabin feel.
Other Badass Mods for your Jeep
- Engine upgrades
- Cold air intake
- Security storage
- Receiver hitch
- Suspension adjustments
- Exhaust systems
- Rock sliders
- Custom paint job
You may be wondering why these items are not part of the main list. The truth is, improving engine performance does not guarantee better off-road handling for your rig.
If anything, a boost in horsepower and acceleration resulting from installing a cold air intake or a more robust power mill would only indirectly affect off-roading by providing improved fuel economy and throttle responsiveness.
Similarly, a drastic suspension upgrade is not always necessary since most lift kits come with high-performance shocks, coil springs, replacement control arms, and other suspension components.
You are better off prioritizing Jeep Wrangler upgrades that will significantly and positively affect your vehicle’s ground clearance, torque, and traction control.
Conclusion — 8 Best Jeep Wrangler Mods & Upgrades
So, what are the best mods and upgrades you can do for your Jeep Wrangler? Here are my top and secondary picks once again:
- Lift Kits
- Wheels & Tires
- Winch/Recovery Gear
- Roof Racks
- Hard/Soft Tops
- High-End Audio System
- Grab handles
- Entry guards
- Hood latches
- Seat covers
- Floor mats and cargo liners
(You can also read my review of the 1996 Jeep Wrangler TJ for a more extensive list of adventure essentials.)
The recommendations enlisted here should give you a good idea of what mods or upgrades to get for your Jeep Wrangler (if you haven’t already done so). However, you still call the shots on whether to shun everything, go ham, or find some moderation in what the market offers.
Whichever you choose, remember that your rig is as free-spirited as you and that it is possible to enjoy the ride and stack up on mods as you go along.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.